Note from Work Stew Editor Kate Gace Walton: Over on Facebook, I recently posted this message: “I’ve talked to many job changers. Now I’m on the lookout for people who have stayed with one employer for a long, long time. Anyone?”
I heard from quite a few people, and over the coming weeks, I plan to share parts of what they had to say. First up was Priscilla Emerling who has worked at a Vermont resort for more than two decades. Next up is Bill Watts, an engineer based where I’m based: on Bainbridge Island, a thirty-five minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle.
Engineer Bill Watts on why he picked one employer—and then stayed:
My wife and I pre-emptively moved to Bainbridge Island in May 1984 (I at age 30 and my wife at age 37) for lifestyle reasons, without a job yet in hand. We had two daughters, a toddler and newborn, as well as a horse. As a ship design engineer, I needed to live with convenient access to multiple marine engineering firms. After one year at a great naval architect firm in Seattle, they ran too low on work and I was laid off. A month later, in September 1985 I got a job with a small firm (DLI Engineering, 16 employees) in Winslow, two miles from home. Although the type of engineering was generally different than my expertise to date, the situation and location of the job were enticing. I began at that time and am still there 29 years later. At that time, there was no long-term professional plan. Consider three important factors:
- I am a man of convenience and place a very high priority on a minimal commute.
- I enjoy small companies with a casual, independent atmosphere.
- I recognize the importance of having an integrated work/home lifestyle.
It became increasingly apparent that Bainbridge Island is a wonderful place to live and that the company was an interesting and somewhat enjoyable place to work. I never entertained thoughts of leaving. In the past several years, we have developed a family compound on the Island which presently includes one daughter with her husband and our three grandkids. The other daughter lives nearby in Seattle and may move back to the Island with her husband. Thus there is no reason to move elsewhere. The job has developed to the point where I basically do what I want, when I want, how I want, and where I want. In other words, there is great job security and flexibility. Being successful in a small company for many years tends to provide such flexibility. Although I could retire now, this job will continue as long as it is somewhat interesting and enjoyable. Some people tend to purse jobs with maximum income, or they maneuver themselves into different professional positions. They will move to less desirable geographical locations in order to “move up” or get a modest increase in salary. I advise people to live where they want to live, and let the job take care of itself.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons